The planned increase in Singapore’s goods and services tax (GST) is aimed at ensuring ongoing competitive, while providing sustainable and inclusive growth, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
“The budget announcement of a future increase in GST from 7 to 9 per cent is a part of the balance that we are striking,” Tharman told a forum in Jakarta.
“That balance between staying competitive, ensuring that we can grow at a sustainable pace, but at the same time, staying inclusive and, in particular, being able to afford the quality health care that an ageing population needs: that’s foremost on our minds.”
Finance minister Heng Swee Keat’s budget this month included a GST increase for the first time in more than 10 years, from 7 per cent to 9 per cent, with the rise due between 2021 and 2025.
Tharman told the Jakarta event that Singapore could increase the tax in a way that was fair both to the lower and middle classes. More affluent citizens would “one way or another have to pay more over time. But we want to do it in a way that doesn’t hurt our competitiveness”, the deputy prime minister said.
Meanwhile, one of the more affluent Singaporean communities appears largely happy with its lifestyle. Singapore topped the charts for the third year in a row in HSBC’s expat survey, coming ahead of Norway, which climbed four spots from last year.
HSBC said the mean gross personal annual income of expatriates it surveyed in Shanghai was US$202,000, ranking the city fourth globally, compared with US$148,000 in Hong Kong, which came ninth, and US$177,000 in Singapore. The highest salaries for expats were found in Mumbai, where the expats surveyed earned US$217,000 annually on average, compared with a global average of U$100,000.
Singapore scored highly in more rounded lifestyle assessments.
Three quarters of expats questioned in Singapore praised the clean streets and air, efficient public transport and personal safety. Its renowned education system won 26-per-cent approval, compared with 10 per cent across the overall study.
New Zealand came third in the bank’s European-dominated survey, followed by Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Austria and the UAE.
Over 27,000 expats in 159 countries completed the HSBC survey with 27 questions on economics, experience and family.
Expats praised Singapore’s lifestyle opportunities. Picture credit: PXHere